Response to “Citizen” by Claudia Rankine

In Claudia Rankine’s Citizen there is a very prominent message of accidental, or subconscious, discrimination. The readers may ask themselves whether or not they have ever been racist or if they have failed to call out racism out of pure ignorance. We are trained from the beginning of our lives to subconsciously hold social and racial prejudices. Individuals who are often discriminated against quickly learn to ignore and, “let go,” as Rankine repeats in her book, the unfair treatment they face everyday. My project is screenshots of texts, all from the Black Citizen’s perspective. The messages are between the reader and God, the reader and White Citizen’s Subconscious, and the reader and Black Citizen’s Subconscious. These messages mostly revolve around two scenarios: There is an empty seat on the bus next to the Black Citizen and a white person chooses to stand instead of sitting next to them, and a white person crosses paths with the black person on the street late at night. There are other conversations encompassing the general subconsciousness of racism and the questioning of racism as a whole, but they mostly revolve around those two scenarios. I used the Black Citizen’s perspective used in Citizen to help decide what to center the texts around and what to say. I also took from Rankine’s idea of using the second person; When the audience of my project is reading the texts they will automatically read it from their own perspective, as if they are reading conversations on their own phone. The intended result of this is that the white audience understands what it feels like to be in the Black Citizen’s shoes for a few minutes and scenarios. Hopefully the reader sees their own subconscious racism from a new perspective and is able to avoid discriminating in small, typically unnoticeable ways (and of course larger ways).

Texts between Black Citizen and White Citizen’s Subconscious: 

Texts between Black Citizen and Black Citizen’s Subconscious:

Texts between Black Citizen and God:


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